context: Automation, the sharing economy and other technology-driven innovations are changing the world of work. If robotics and artificial intelligence will offset China’s declining work force as the state hopes, China will need to prepare its labour market regulations and policies for the upcoming transition.

Labour market data shows oversupply of blue-collar workers, while skilled labour is still short in AI, big data and IT sectors, reports Economic Observer. The source of labour-intensive firms’ hiring difficulties are both frictional (workers demanding raises) and structural (reduced labour force and undersupply of skilled workers), says Wang Guangzhou 王广州 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences labour economics analyst. Tech is changing labour market dynamics, says New Economy 100 Forum, highlighting

  • rising value of skilled blue-collar workers
  • availability of services for tailored and flexible work
  • emergence of job-seeking platforms that use AI, blockchain and big data
    • unlike Zhaopin.com, 58.com and other traditional online platforms, Zgono 小包智工 and Doumi 斗米 use a task assignment model similar to food delivery and ride hailing, adds 36Kr, noting registered employers and employees are verified by embedded blockchain technologies, and available jobs and workers are shared in real-time

Only nine percent of jobs in the domestic labour market are ‘flexible’, according to a 2017 survey by 36Kr, against 42 percent in Japan and 32 percent in the US. The survey included under ‘secure jobs’ positions with ‘civil servant’ status in the public sector, permanent recruitment in the private sector and contract recruitment (minimum one year). ‘Flexible jobs’ included

  • contracting (41 percent): temporary and seasonal employees
  • freelancing (22 percent): providers of specialised services
  • part-timing (37 percent): serving multiple employers

Respondents did not prefer flex work, worrying over

  • ‘fake posts’ and information asymmetry (54.7 percent)
  • access to social benefits (48.3 percent)
  • high costs of intermediary services (45.6 percent)
  • payment delays (32.1 percent)
  • off-contract work content and work load (16.1 percent)